Our time in Nova Scotia started out rough. The weather was dreadful on our first full day, and we got lost trying to drive westward from the Cape George Lighthouse. The province looks small in scale on a map, but when it came time to drive, it took so long!
5 Day Plan
Our schedule covered central and western Nova Scotia. We also looped out of the province before coming back to finish off our trip in Halifax. We were more interested in seeing scenic attractions, so we had to skip the museums to make time.
|Jul 25||Halifax||Arrive in Halifax (5pm)||Explore Downtown Halifax|
|Jul 26||Sydney||Arisaig & Cape George Lighthouse (10am)||Getting lost enroute to Louisburg|
|Jul 27||New Glasgow||Louisburg Fortress (9 -12:30pm)||Cape Breton Park (4-8pm)||Arrive to New Glasgow at 10pm|
|Jul 28||Charlottetown||6:30am ferry to PEI||Exploring PEI|
|…||a few days in PEI and New Brunswick|
|Jul 31||Halifax||Joggins Fossil Cliff (10-1pm)|
|Aug 1||Halifax||Lunenburg & Blue Rocks, and Peggy’s Cove||Evening Flight (8pm)|
Arisaig Provincial Park & Cape George Lighthouse: These were the first two attractions we saw on the trip. The route cuts through rolling green pastures, and glimpses of the sea. A short walk through the Arisaig Provincial Park would lead you to a beach with 400 million years-old fossil cliffs. I think of it as the baby version of Joggins Fossil Cliffs. Cape George Lighthouse is one of many lighthouses in the Maritimes. Both were beautiful attractions, but if you are short on time, I would suggest skipping these two especially if you plan on going to Joggins Fossil Cliffs and Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse.
Fortress of Louisburg: We wanted to spend the whole afternoon here, but our plans got delayed so we spent around 3.5 hours here instead (not enough!). Allocate time to buy your admission tickets at the Louisbourg Fortress visitor’s center. You will see a big green sign to your right about 2 km after you pass by the modern city of Louisbourg. This is also where you park your car and catch a bus to the historic city. Admission is around $18, and you can also catch various tours when you’re there. We joined the one hour walking tour for around $4 (highly recommended).
Cape Breton Highlands National Park: do not under estimate the drive around Cape Breton Park. The Cabot Trail is 300 km long, but only around a third of it runs through the National Park (between Ingonish and Cheticamp). We drove through the whole Cabot Trail and visited a few sites in around four hours, but it was definitely rushed. The weather was a bit unpredictable too. We experienced some amazing sunshine and mysterious fog during the four hours we were there.
You can pay for your admission at the information center. They also have some great resources on what to do at the park. Some of the places I loved: Lakies Head, Green Cove, Chowder House at Neil’s Harbour (great place for a quick meal with gorgeous views), and Corney Brook viewpoint.
Joggins Fossil Cliff: this site kicked off part two of our trip in Nova Scotia. If you love to be overwhelmed by the vastness of our planet, this is the place to be. We joined the 30 minutes tour for $10 (includes admission to the Fossil Center), but if we had more time, I would have loved to join the 2 hour tour for an in depth exploration of the site. Make sure to check the Tides Chart ahead of time. The Cliffs are not accessible around high tide.
Lunenburg & Blue Rocks: there is no denying that the Old Town of Lunenburg deserves to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town can be enjoyed up close (by strolling around the residential and commercial streets), or from afar, perched at the top of the Bluenose Golf Course across the Lunenburg Harbour. We also had some amazing Scallop Club Po’Boy and Smoked Salmon Panini from The Savvy Sailor Restaurant. Make a quick visit to the information center beforehand, they gave us some great suggestions on things to do!
I highly recommend taking the extra 10 minutes to drive out to Blue Rocks. It’s removed from the touristy attractions, so that you can have a quiet time to take in the serene village.
Peggy’s Cove: if you have time to visit just one lighthouse while you’re in the Maritimes, I would suggest Peggy’s Cove. Yes, its usually packed with visitors, but this spot is a great combination of picturesque fishing villages and an amazing backdrop behind the lighthouse. Highway 333, which leads in and out of Peggy’s Cove, is a single lane. Be patient if you get stuck behind a tourist bus, it’s worth the drive.
Don’t be fooled by this island, but Nova Scotia has a huge land mass to cover. Prince Edward Island was much more compact and relaxing though. Check out what I did at Prince Edward Island here Lesson Two: 1 Day in Prince Edward Island.